This year, Icelandic Airwaves was slightly different for me in terms of preparation. Usually there are two or three ‘must-see’ acts, which you kind of plan your program around. But this year not much really struck me as ‘must-see’ beforehand, so the program was decided more on the go and more based on vibe.
As the festival progresses, the vibe I look for is more upbeat, more rock ’n roll. Slow dreamy stuff, while OK for Wednesday or Thursday, will simply put you to sleep as the festival progresses. Uncomfortable seating in Dómkirkjan cathedral was, for example, the only thing keeping me awake for Árstíðir’s set on Friday night. Sometimes you just need more cowbell!
Jesse Mac Cormack
The Canadian musician played Iðnó on Thursday night, following a very positive performance from Soffía Björg. It can be well argued that this run of acts completed by a full force blast from Jónas Sig was the best run of gigs anywhere on this year’s festival. Spotify had introduced me to some of his music and much to my relief the live set was more in line with the more intense part of his work. Great set.
This might actually be the next big thing here in our good land. Blues rock and psychedelia, backed by a fantastic band. Special shout-out to Pétur Ben for the out-of-this world guitar performance.
The biggest party I experienced during the weekend. Saturday night and Silfurberg in Harpa was absolutely rolling. The old man, writing this little piece, was thinking about heading home before this show to nurture the sore feet and pounding hangover but got persuaded to stay by a friend that was doing a better job of getting back on the drunken horse. FM Belfast had the whole crowd jumping and dancing (well almost everyone that is, some people were just too old and too tired and as a poet once nearly said, aching feet have got no rhythm).
Four young ladies belting out punk rock, probably the purest rock set I saw during the weekend. Excellent performance, good stage presence, fantastic name for a band.
Exactly what was needed for a vodka/red bull driven haze late on Friday night. 80s pop electronica and best take-your-shirt-off moment of the weekend.
It is ten o’clock on a Saturday and I am feeling that although I have seen some good acts, even some great ones, nothing has been outstanding or unique. That changed after this set. When I saw two cellists and a tuba player line up I thought: “Oh no, this is going to be something low key and cute. But how wrong was I? It is actually quite difficult to describe what I saw, some sort of electronic, classical, prog-rock fusion. The best concert at Iceland Airwaves 2016, by far.
Brynjar Vatnsdal – brynjarvatnsdal(at)hotmail.com
Brynjar Vatnsdal is a biomedical engineer by profession and a devoted music fan and record collector. He has a collection of a few thousand CDs and vinyl records spanning the past 50 years of musical history, both local and international.